Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently announced they are getting a divorce. And the media focused on … Jennifer Aniston. Not Pitt and Jolie, not their six kids. Jennifer Aniston, the woman Pitt was married to more than a decade ago. The fact that the media can’t seem to separate Jen from anything having to do with Brad and Angelina screams about the state of our society.
The Unfair Portrayal
Soon after Brangelina announced their divorce, the tabloids and people on social media began to focus more on Jen than the two people actually splitting up. Memes were spread painting the picture that Aniston was celebrating their divorce, feeling her revenge was finally had. Tabloids showed Jen’s face on the cover of magazines instead of Brad and Angelina’s.
Now, this kind of reaction might make sense if Jen was actually feeling bitter or happy about the fact that Brad and Angelina’s relationship fell apart. But she’s not! She and Brad divorced 11 years ago. That is a long time, and in that time, Jennifer Aniston grew an extremely successful career, had a few relationships and married Justin Theroux. She moved on with her life, but apparently celebrity gossip column writers haven’t quite gotten over her relationship with Brad.
Apart from the Brangelina situation, there is a story that has been circling Jennifer Aniston for years now that she has been unhappy with her life and unfulfilled because she hasn’t had kids. Paparazzi love to photograph her at angles that make her look “fat” and claim she’s pregnant. This has happened multiple times.
But how is it that society feels the right to barge in on her life, announce news that isn’t true — and isn’t even our news to share, even if it was true — and label her as unhappy just because she hasn’t passed on her genes? When did that become okay?
The Underlying Problem
Portraying Jen as a jealous and vengeful ex of Brad Pitt’s when she has asked to be left out of the conversation is simply wrong. Talking about Jen’s lack of motherhood is a complete overstep of the media. The way the media portrays Jen shows her as a weak woman, only defined by her ability to have children and stay in a relationship. And this is at the heart of the problem in our society.
Jennifer Aniston recently spoke up about the issue regarding views of females in a blog post on Huffington Post. She criticized the scrutiny and objectification women are subject to, especially women in the public eye.
She said it perfectly. Just because she is a woman, she is put in the spotlight in a story that isn’t even about her and held to an expectation that she will have children. Jen, and every other female, is more than her relationships.
She’s more than her decision to have kids or not. She’s more than an ex of Brad Pitt’s. She has a life. She doesn’t sit around for 11 years just waiting for a marriage to fall apart, like the media would like us to believe. She has a career. She has a happy marriage. She’s content to live her own life and stay out of anything else going on in the media. So why can’t we leave her out of it?
Holly Whitman is the author behind Only Slightly Biased and a freelance politics writer. Her work has been featured on Yahoo Finance, Fortune, Politicus and Feministing. You can find her on Twitter at @hollykwhitman.